Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Good Day

Day 3 of no running. Dare I say it, not running has been good for me. This knee is recovering, with no real stiffness today, and my IT band is loosening up. There's still a little tightness through the butt, but nothing major.

My goal for today was to sleep in. However getting up to go to the bathroom at 7am made that a real challenge. From the bed I could see a telling yellow glow wafting down the hallway, and my suspicions were soon confirmed. Standing in the hallway I looked through the window in our back door out to the warm morning sun and the stark outline of the Orongorongos. Wellington had turned on one of those perfect spring mornings.

It was tough, but a good book and Media Watch on National Radio kept me in bed till 9.30. Cooking bacon for breakfast took another half hour. However the obvious kept cycling through my mind. This was the day of the Pelorus Trust 10km run in Petone. This was supposed to have been my day. The weather was perfect, and I had no idea whether Allie was running it without me. I'm obviously doomed to never run a successful 10km event.

Finally I was dressed and driving to the landfill. This is one of the amusing things about my new life in Wellington. When we were Auckland apartment dwellers Hamish and I wondered obnoxiously (true Jafas) about why anyone would want a garden. Now we are the unwitting owners of 600sqm of garden wilderness, and the landfill's green waste facility has become my most-used council service.

If you'd have told me a few years ago that I'd be spending my weekends at the tip I would have laughed in your face. Yet there's something about the long drive down Happy Valley, and up the winding road between bleak exposed gorse-covered slopes to the dump site that is strangely compelling. Even the staff manning the weighbridge are oddly friendly.

As I approach the sickly waft of decomposing waste usually compels me to switch the air conditioning to recycle. Yet the exposure to the sheer mass of human discard is a sobering reminder of how large our ecological footprint is in this country. Think about where all those disposable nappies are going, people!

I'm happy to be able to report that the worst component of the majority of my landfill loads is the odd flax leaf hidden in the middle of more legitimate green waste. I try to pretend I haven't seen the large signs stating that flax is not welcome in what will eventually be sold back to me as compost. I try to pluck most of it out, but some still slips through. Today's load was thankfully flax free, and within minutes, and $4 poorer, I was on the way back down the hill again.

I decided to take the scenic route to the Newtown supermarket, so turned left and drove till I reached the Southern coast. The Kaikoura ranges seemed close enough to touch, with only a light sprinkling of snow already, despite our punishing winter. There were scores of people out biking, scuba diving and drinking coffee outside The Bach. Island Bay was swarming with couples out walking, children wading and dogs running across the sand.

I turned inland again and got stuck behind a big ute that crawled at 30 to 40 kmph the whole way to Newtown. If nothing else it gave me the chance to look around at the Island Bay shops (must go to the new theatre, and check out the local butcher, and Black Rocks deserves another visit). I tried not to feel impatient, resisted the urge to overtake, and pondered at my sense of urgency, when it was a gorgeous Sunday with plenty of time to take in the scenary and no place in particular to rush to. All the same, I was glad when the ute finally turned off shortly before I reached the supermarket.

A flight of whimsy led to the inclusion of a bottle of pink bubbly in my shopping trolley. That was accompanied by beer and cider, and my resolution to give up drinking for a month went out the window. A bunch of asparagus soon followed, to celebrate the beautiful spring day. Unfortunately the asparagus never made it onto my shopping receipt, and having seen a bunch in the groceries piled on the counter behind me, I suspect someone else ended up buying my expensive fresh produce.

A brief interlude spent reading the paper out on our East-facing veranda in the sun (with Gaffer curled up on the seat behind me), and then I rounded up the Tivoli and headed into the garden. Active was playing some really bizarre tracks, but they were excellent distraction as I hacked back ivy and ripped out weeds. I'm really glad someone had the foresight to plant our garden with natives.

When I moved here I spent a lot of time ripping out Wandering Jew and other weeds, uncovering a hidden rock garden in the process. Since then the natives have continued to grow, and now all I need to do is plant some native groundcover to prevent the weeds from returning. Eventually Hamish and I want to turn all of the lawn at the top of the garden into native garden. It will be far lower maintenance, and as long as we include a couple of paths leading up to a park bench, it will be just as usable. It's so sheltered and sunny up there, and the views out to the mountains are so tranquil, that it's a part of the garden we really should use more.

There's something about working out in our garden that is both physically and spiritually fulfilling. It amazes me in part because before moving here I was the only non-green thumbed member of a very horticultural family. I was very much a city chick. We didn't even realise until we'd already gone unconditional exactly how much garden we'd bought into, and it's been a bit of a steep learning curve.

I've written before about the energy that comes from the mountains, but every time I spend an afternoon out there playing in the soil I'm amazed at how palpable it is. Once I'm there I never want to leave. A connection forms that goes far deeper than the roots of the weeds in the dirt around me. When I'm old and someone asks me about my fondest memories I will reminisce about sunny Sunday afternoons spent in the garden listening to the Americana show on my Tivoli, followed by cider on the veranda.

However today before the familiar Pat Green lyrics kicked in:

"I gave up on Nashville a long time ago
Well here I go, Lord once again,
Oh here I go..."

... I was with Hamish in our little Polo driving back around the coast to Chocolate Fish. Leonie was due to fly out to California, and we were meeting her and Nic for coffee and cake before she left. They had scored a beach-side table in the sun, and coffee (for them), OJ (for me) and cake (carrot, passionfruit and chocolate caramel slice) were on their way.

The sun was shining, but a stiff Northerly kept the temperatures at a 'yes it's still spring, and this is Wellington' temperature. Leonie had 'duck bumps' on her goose pimples, but was typically staunch. Behind us small children ran into the water and squealed at the bracing Cook Strait currents. The cake got eaten, the coffee got drunk, and before long Leonie was leaving on a jet plane and Hamish and I were back at home, where I drank more cider, Hamish drank unseasonal Monteith's Winter Ale and we polished off the pink bubbly and way too much Whitakers Dark Ghana.

All in all it's been a pretty perfect Wellington day. I have to regard it as a good thing that this knee kept me out of my running shoes and off my bike. Resting has restored some much needed balance into my life, and I'm feeling emotionally and spiritually replenished.

Oh, and Allie DID complete the Petone 10km, despite me thinking she might give in to the temptation to sleep in (sorry for the lack of faith). She thinks she did it in around 55 minutes, which is a good indication of the time I would have done it in. Tragically, I completed a 10km by proxy. Never mind - who needs a paltry 10km event when there's a half to run?

Though if anyone in charge of Wellington running events reads this, could someone PLEASE organise a Wellington half with some decent hills? This is a great city with some great trails. Let's actually use them!


Michelle Fry said...

Sounds like the rest from running was a good thing. You will be stronger for your next race because of it.

Wellington sounds beautiful.

Pip said...

Although I suspect I'm kidding myself when I say this knee is on the mend. Standing lunges today in yoga - not such a good idea!